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Hypoallergenic living

So, as my health has unraveled before me in a few short months all the proactive things I have been doing to have some sense of "control" over my health have made me realize there is far more that may be affecting me. And basically, I am not in control. My exercise and vegetarian diet have failed me. Or, Perhaps they have enhanced what would be a much worse state of health. The probiotics and organics and fresh whole foods weren't enough but I am still trying to build each cell with better than average food. So I took over my environment, cleaned, stripped down, covered up and banished allergens to the extent one would expect. I avoid any time outside as each cool evening or morning I steal an hour or two I suffer terribly within 12 hours for having done. What else can I do except keep adding and changing meds and getting weaker? 

Here I am now thinking that I must consider if there is a better place I could live for my health. Would the outer banks islands be better? Salt air and wind? There is little grass and trees and surrounded by water and wind. Does anyone know if there is a science based  list of the best places to live with asthma and allergies? 

My family knows if I don't improve we will look at moving for real. I appreciate any links you come across on this subject. 

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  • Allison

    Hi – AAFA releases reports each year on the most challenging places to live – I never thought about using these lists as a jumping off point for the reverse though – in other words, if a location you are considering moving to is not listed below, perhaps it is worth considering? 

  • Shea

    I live in Florida, and we have year-round molds and pollens. Humid weather makes my asthma worse. The best I ever felt was when I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, around dry air. I had a friend who did well recoverting in Utah. I also cannot live with cats or dogs, as dander is a huge trigger for me, so I have 2 leopard geckos as pets now, they are great. My doctor suggested New Mexico to me once. I decided to stay near my family and doctors for now, but dream dream dream of moving, I really want to move. I have 3 air purifiers, one Hyla air cleaning system, no carpets, organic eating, (not vegetarian, but aiming that direction, and I avoid red meat and gluten) everything's covered and washable in hot water, air conditioning is running running, and I started Nucala shots this month, all of which are helpful, but… I am still unable to get off prednisone or go through a day without my rescue inhaler. I feel your frustration of feeling like you are doing everything you can do and still suffering. I suggest a 1-2 week vacation test period before you move, that is what I want to do. I do not know much about the outer banks, but with climate change hurricanes are predicted to be more frequent and bigger, and sea levels are predicted to rise. Sometimes I imagine my allergies are my body's way of getting me to move inland. At least my allergies are meaningful when I think of them that way. Let me know what happens and what you learn!

  • K8sMom2002

    Gigi and Shea, it IS difficult and frustrating to manage our environment, especially here in the south where we have almost 12 months of things growing and blooming, and we have such humidity. 

    I like your thoughts on where you COULD have been if you hadn't done all that you've done. 

    Another thought is to check the program that shows products that really help folks with asthma and allergy. 

    And Shea, that is an awesome idea about a vacation before you move!

  • Jen

    Hi Shea,

    Welcome to AAFA's asthma community.  Does the dr have you on any meds to help with the allergy issues?

  • Kathy P

    Well, years ago, I had hoped that moving clear across the country would help my allergies. What I didn't know is that you get about 3 years reprieve before becoming allergic to local flora. But since I have indoor allergies too….those are everywhere. I do as much as realistically can to reduce the allergens, but I can't eliminate them. And there has to be a balance where you can still live your life with the restrictions vs the fallout from flares.

    Shea – I'm glad you found some things that are helping. I'd love to hear more about the Nucala shots. What prompted your doctor to start that?

  • Shea

    I just started Nucala shots a week ago because I have high eosinophils in my blood (lab test is cbc). Right after the first shot I felt a little better. Normally I need a nebulizer of Budesonide, ipatroprium-bromide, and albuterol every morning and night or I am wheezing. I use my tescue inhaler on top of that as needed. 3 days after the Nucala I have been able to do the treatments once a day. I take 20mg prednisone every morning, I have for about 5 years, not without side effects. My hope is to stop the breathing treatments without flare, then move slowly down on prednisone, perhaps after a month, to 18mg, then use the nebulizers if needed to stabilize on that dose, then after a other month try to move to 15mg. I have a chronic allergic disease called Churg-Strauss Syndrome, I was diagnosed 5 years ago, and allergic asthma is one of the stages of the disease. My doctor is an expert immunologist who works within USFs clinical teams, he keeps very up to date on research, and we were ecstatic when Nucala became approved here. I used to get Xolair injections, but after a year, did not see the results in labs, or a reduction in prednisone. I developed the disease Churg strauss Syndrome after moving in with a person with cats and dogs and taking singulair, which I thought was managing my allergies. In reality, the Singulair was just covering up symptoms and after a year I started developing wheezing and coughs and would have to go to the ER because I was gasping for air and would get a steroid shot and nebulizer, I did not know at the time what was causing the breathing difficulties. It then occurred to me it could be my allergies coming back or the Singulair not working anymore (it had worked so well I called it the magic allergy-eraser–oops). The symptoms were different than prior allergic reactions and I did not have my awesome doctor then, I only had a primary doctor. My doctors were not helpful then. I asjed my primary care doctor at the time finally, could this be my cat and dog allergy back again?? and my primary care doctor finally said I shouldn't live with the cats and dogs.  I was already so sick by then. I was pregnant when all that was happening too, and the women's doctor did cbcs all the time, but no one told me my eosinophils were insanely high. I gave birth to a healthy baby boy on 11-11-11. I moved out of the home with cats and dogs, because the father of my s11, whom I lived with, would not find a home for them despite my health crises, and trying to make myself a petfree room was ineffective. So I moved in with my parents, who only had one dog. The father of my son ended up one day bringing a bunch of clothes I did not need from his closet and putting them in the room at my parents house that the baby and I had just moved into. They were covered in cat and dog dander. I told him not to, that I had the clothes I needed, but he did not listen. That night I had to go to the ER because I couldnt breath. I ended up having a heart attack from eosinophils surrounding my heart, and, after heart biopsy, was diagnosed with Churg Strauss Syndrome. I was treated with high dose prednisone and cytoxin. I was no longer able to breastfeed my son, but he was 3 months old then, so at least I got that in. Since then I have had severe allergic reactions to cat dander, including anaphlaxis, and very bad reactions to dog dander, including the amount carried on clothing of owners. In the nearly 5 years since I have been recovering. I have never been lower than 20mg on prednisone without flares. I do not visit any house with cats or dogs now, and have my own home which I keep immaculate. I even bought an expensive medical grade air purifier called the Hyla, which also converts to a vacuum and helps me not break out when cleaning, and really seems to help keep indoor allergens low. My son has cat/dog allergies too, as well as to pollens snd molds, he is almost 5 now. His father still has the dog and, when he comes around my asthma acts up, my son gets rashes, and he is pushing the courts for visitations and overnights with my son in his home, although we have a current agreement that timeshares occur in places cats and dogs do not reside in. I would be horrified if that happened, and dander on him and his clothes, to bkth him and me!! His fsther does not listen to doctors notes or advice. I had to hire a guardian ad litem to talk with my son and I's doctors and report to the court and pray they do not make him go there ever. Our supposedly final hearing is set for 2 weeks. I am a nervous wreck. My son has environmental allergies, but our home is our safe spot, and we both do well symptom-wise inside it. His symptoms are mild because I am very attentive, and wash covers weekly in hot water, and the purifiers, so the majority of the day we do well avoiding allergens. I am on ssdi (that was a battle on its own), so we manage, but I want to THRIVE. I am not giving up hope.

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, you poor thing! What a battle you've had! No, don't ever give up hope … we're here for you. 

    Please keep us posted on how the court date goes. 

  • GigiGibson

    Shea what an ordeal! I am so sorry but sounds like you are a contender and able to handle anything. Thank you for sharing and we hope our support helps you, even when all we have is an ear to hear and prayers to offer. We do welcome you. 

  • Kathy P

    Wow, thank you for sharing your story! I'd heard of Churg-Strauss Syndrome, but had never really looked it up. It's interesting that it's associated with late onset asthma. My asthma really reared it's ugly head and came into it's own while I was pregnant too. I'd had milder issues up til then. That seems to be a common theme. I know that your immune system goes through changes during hormone shifts (puberty, pregnancy, menopause) and was always told that allergies can change a lot during those times.

    GL w/ the court hearing…I hope they will see that it's in your son's best interest to not be in that environment. You can come freak out here to get you though!

  • Jen

    Shea – sounds like you've been through a lot.  We're here for you.  Gl w the court hearing.  Hugs~

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, what's the current custody arrangement now? How does your son see his dad without bringing pet dander back into your home? What sort of steps do you take to help that?

  • Shea

    His father has timeshare three times a week with no overnights, since he has a dog reside with him. My son's allergist recommended he avoid dander as much as possible since he has positive allergy test and allergic symptoms. Timeshares are only to occur in places where dogs and cats do not reside. Often I meet his dad at a mall, park, kids event, or I have a front room in my home with a separate air conditioner and air purifier that they can use, or the carport and yard, and his dad usually will stay for 1 to 2 hours each visit, although our current agreement allows for 7 hours twice a week, and 4 hours once a week. The only dander that is coming in near us is on his dad's clothing and it helps keep it out of the house with the front room available , they use that room and the yard often. My son rubs on his dad alot and he will get itchy or sneezy, his allergist told me to pretreat him with childrens zvisi before visits, but his dad does not stick with the schedule and changes times alot, so I do not usually get to do that. After visits I usually change and bathe my son (but I am not perfect at it because he hates baths, it is like getting Grumpy from Snow White in the the tub). But it helps prevent the need for benadryl later if I do that.

  • Shea

    The hardest part of this all for me is that I am surrounded by a lot of people who do not have asthma or allergies, and some who have seemingly mild allergies who do live with cats, like my brother, and it is hard for me to stand up for myself and my son. In fact, it took me nearly dying to stop chronically exposing myself to allergens and taking myself and my symptoms seriously. I would love to hear other peoples stories and experiences, just to not feel so alone in it.

  • Kathy P

    It is hard when others think allergies are a couple sneezes or a runny nose. Most don't realize they can be severe and trigger asthma which can be life threatening.There is a need for greater awareness and education and AAFA continues to make strides on that.

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, you are NOT alone! While my asthma and allergies aren't as severe as yours, I do understand how severe yours are. 

    If you're looking for some encouragement on a day-to-day basis, we have a great "" thread where folks check in each day. 

    You can also post questions as new topics, or just start a new topic with whatever is on your mind on a particular day. So if it's a "grr-moment" that has to do with people who don't understand severe asthma and allergies, start a new topic. I can pretty much guarantee you'll have folks chiming in to agree with you!

    I also like the way that you have chimed in with replies to various posts. Your first reply about how you handle your environment shows how people can take charge of the things that are in their control. That helps people know what all CAN be done to help ease reactions and attacks.

    Please, please continue to ask questions and share with us. It helps us all when you do that.

  • Shea

    Thank you, and I will make sure to make some new posts and share, and look forward to hearing others as well.

  • Melanie Carver

    Hi @GigiGibson,

    We created a program (in partnership with the CDC) called WeeBreathers. Within it is a checklist to help reduce asthma triggers in your home. We posted about it on our blog today:

    Do You Have an Asthma-Friendly Home? 

    You  may have already done all of the things in the checklist, but in case there is something new in here, I wanted to make sure you had this resource.

    As for allergic triggers – I'm not sure which allergies you have (if you'd like, you can that includes what you are managing), but as Kathy mentioned – sometimes you can't outrun them by moving. You may develop allergies to your new location.  That being said, you may want to discuss this with your allergist. 

    I've moved around a lot in my life (not due to allergies) and there are definitely places that I have more or less allergies.